Senior Researches in Tanzania, Plans Career in Disease Control

NOVEMBER 16, 2015 – This semester, international health major Nicholas Dellasanta (NHS’16) has been in Tanzania working on a study related to malaria.

“The focus of my study in Tanga is to determine factors associated with referral uptake among individuals that demonstrate malaria symptoms to village health workers during active case detection,” says Dellasanta, who is interning at the National Institute of Medical Research.

As part of the effort, a follow-up to previous studies, Dellasanta and the research team are performing 150 quantitative questionnaires and 30 qualitative interviews.

“It is a fairly large undertaking and a change from the more quantitative, hard science work that is more familiar,” he says.

Interdisciplinary Focus

Dellasanta is in Tanzania for the international health major’s practical experience abroad program, which takes place during the fall semester of senior year.

“I appreciate the international health curriculum because it is interdisciplinary,” he says. “I have a strong interest in infectious disease and microbiology, and have been able to concentrate my studies with courses like ‘Disease Control and Global Health Initiatives.’”

The pre-med senior from Rhode Island says that he is glad he transferred to Georgetown and he felt a part of the school’s community right away.

“I felt so warmly welcomed into the small NHS community and have always been grateful for the kind nature of the school,” he says.

Artistic Interest

In addition to coursework within his major, Dellasanta has pursued a class in “Art and Medicine” in Georgetown’s Department of Art and Art History.

“When I’m not in class, I enjoy painting, printmaking, and photography,” he says. “After hearing about and enrolling in a class titled ‘Art and Medicine,’ my friends didn’t stop hearing about it for weeks.”

The course offered an “analysis of the connection between the arts and medical studies,” engaging areas such a bioethics and the role of art in “establishing the status of medical professionals,” he says, noting the class took a field trip to the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to see the documents they had studied.

“I still consider the seminar to be one of the most rewarding classes that I have taken as an undergraduate, and I am always impressed that such tailored options are available on campus,” Dellasanta says.

Involved Student

Dellasanta has participated in several activities, such as the Georgetown University Journal of Health Sciences; the NHS peer advising team; END7, an organization focusing on neglected tropical diseases; the Georgetown Admissions Ambassador Program; and the Pre-Medical Society.

On campus, he has worked at Dahlgren Memorial Library, the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, and the Bioethics Research Library. Additionally, he has interned at the NIH as a research fellow in the Office of Patient Recruitment and volunteered. He also volunteered at the Hematology and Transplant Outpatient Clinic and the National Eye Institute, both at NIH.

Right now, Dellasanta is applying to graduate school.

“Most of the programs that I am considering involve global health, epidemiology, or infectious disease,” he says. “I hope to attend medical school after graduate school to pursue a clinical research career involved with disease control efforts at all levels from design to evaluation. I plan to specialize in neglected tropical and emerging infectious diseases.”

By Bill Cessato

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